Space Summer at Queen Jadwiga Astronomical Observatory

This summer at the Astronomical Observatory in Rzepiennik Biskupi has brought to sunlight two unusual events. At first the mobile Analog Habitat has been erected. Six white containers and a hemisphere cupola has shaped the peaceful landscape of this hilly village for good. The architecture of the space complex was based on symbolic six-arm star. The habitat has been established on the hill named locally ‘Krzemieniec’. The first idea of creating such space habitation simulator had come to life on the Astronomical Observatory inauguration in 2015. Agata Kołodziejczyk and her parents – owners of the observatory – concluded that there is a need for such laboratory. It is worth to mention that Agata is working for the European Space Agency, hence the professional approach to this project. The project was supported by a lot of people from vastly different backgrounds to start with financial, architectural, construction and space industries.

With a tremendous organizational effort Agata has brought together a lot of experts. Thanks to their experience the project was realized with unusual speed. With the end of November 2015 the date for the first Analog Lunar Mission has been announced and set for August 15th, 2016. By many industry leaders such endeavor require a years of preparation in advance.

On the Harvest Festival (August 15th, 2016) the new astronauts were announced to the public. It is widely known that the st. Jadwiga is a miracle maker and the first Analog Lunar Mission has been started as it was previously established without any delays. Taking into account the very ambitious roadmap for project realization no delays was an unprecedented event in the whole industry. Bogdan Wszołek, astronomer and owner of the Observatory, told the audience that the six astronaut crew will ‘fly’ for their mission and live in isolation in Lunar Habitat. Mission started at the moment of culmination of the Moon, on 21:30.

The Analog Lunar Mission was successfully completed according to the plan. Astronauts had to execute many scientific experiments and procedures. From the far away land of Leiden, Netherland (ESA ESTEC headquarters) the Mission Control Crew (MCC) supported the endeavor. The Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) know as space walks was also part of the simulation. Astronauts during such tasks were training with ground sampling, minerals and rock collection in order to further analyze in geological laboratory inside the habitat. Explorers were equipped with the robotic rover, a specially designed machine for extreme conditions. The rover was remote controlled by one of the trained astronauts from within the base.

Officially the Astronomia Nova society was responsible for the mission with
a joint cooperation with the st. Jadwiga Astronomical Observatory in Rzepiennik Biskupi, Poland and Space Garden company.

The information about the mission has spread worldwide. People from distant places are learning how to pronounce words like ‘Turza’ and ‘Rzepiennik’ in admiration for the project success. The speed and professionalism of the execution has been wondered by the same experts who told before that this is impossible. Although there is a long queue of next missions plans in the habitat, the first one marked itself as a milestone step with the Polish space program.

(Photo credit: Renata Gogola, Agnieszka Kuźmicz, Artur Kuźmicz, Mariusz Słonina, Magdalena Wszołek, Bogdan Wszołek)

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